Technology has forever changed the way that DJs make and sell music. Although they still must contend with piracy and even more widespread competition from independent artists with connections around the globe, new technology has opened a virtual world of opportunity. Reno is a lot of things, but it has never been a booming musical metropolis like Los Angeles or Chicago.
“Without the internet, I wouldn’t be making this music,” says local DJ Amilcar Flores.
He’s a perfect example of how talent, perseverance and some techie know-how can propel a local DJ from relative anonymity to a dance club sensation in New Zealand. Flores has achieved steady success with his solo electronica albums since 2000. Locally, he’s known as the guitarist for Reno band Sobredosis. The band broke up last year, which has given Flores the time to focus on his fifth CD release.
A native of El Salvador, Flores has lived in Reno since 1989. Like many people who exist within two cultures and languages, he speaks a fluid, melodic Spanish punctuated with English expressions and just a touch of an accent. Flores has the disarming habit of pulling out his red Apple laptop, opening it to refer to a song or a website, closing it and putting it back in his bag, only to retrieve it a moment later. He plays the guitar, but he also plays the computer, fingering the keys in the exact fashion that a guitar player would strum his guitar during conversation, almost unaware of the instrument as an extension of himself.
Flores’ musical preferences are across the spectrum, which reflects the diversity of his work. Linkin Park, Depeche Mode and Type O Negative are just some of his favorites.
“Me gusta Lady Gaga,” he adds, and pauses, as if expecting a surprised reaction. He smiles. “I love her!”
Flores has played in Las Vegas, Oregon, San Jose and El Salvador. And his music is being downloaded on iTunes around the world. He also sells his music on CD Baby, the largest online distributor of independently produced music.
“It’s nice to have feedback from Holland and New Zealand,” he concedes.
He has also received recognition from famous musicians. Flores met Sir Mix-a-Lot, of ’90s hit “Baby Got Back” fame, at the Grand Sierra Resort. Flores gave him a CD and was completely surprised when the phone rang days later. When Flores didn’t recognize the performer’s real name, he said, “Man, this is Sir Mix-a-Lot!” The hip-hop star told the amazed DJ how much he enjoyed the tracks and thanked him for the gift. Although he is open to the opportunity to collaborate with well-known musicians in the industry, Flores remains firmly grounded in the present, making music in solitude on his laptop and sending it out to the world.
Desire, his most recent release, combines the upbeat, synthesizer-laden exuberance of the ’80s with highly introspective, original lyrics, mostly in Spanish. The title track mixes an infectious techno beat with space guitar riffs, reminding the listener that the DJ is, before anything, a guitarist. On cdbaby.com, it says that if you like Depeche Mode and Enya, you will like Amilcar Flores, and it’s true, His music reflects both somber and melodic lyrics with soul-lifting, ethereal electronic components. If robots were to sing hymns in choir, Flores would be their conductor, typing furiously, keeping the rhythm as they clank and chime.